To Cut or not to Cut? Wimbley decision today

It’s been widely publicized: a decision on the fate of OLB Kamerion Wimbley will come some time today. At 1 P.M.,$4.5 million in guarantees become locked in for this year, as well as $13 million in future years. The announcement is only hours away, but I will discuss the pros and cons of this talented, if not inconsistent, player.

PROS:

  • Pass rushing ability: Wimbley is one of the few guys on the roster who can get after the quarterback. He’s averaged 7 sacks per year since entering the league in 2006.
  • Versatility: Wimbley lined up a bit of everywhere for the Raiders last season. While he plays a base OLB on first and second down, he proved to be effective as a 3rd-and-passing down end rusher. With Dennis Allen introducing a reported 3-4/4-3 hybrid, a player like Wimbley could be invaluable. He’s got experience in both defensive sets, and may be better utilized as a 3-4 rush linebacker anyway.
  • Youth & Continuity: He turns 29 this season, and is likely entering the peak of his career. Do we really want to cut him, only to see him star for years to come? With no starting CBs returning for the 2012-13 season,  this defense could use as many talented guys as possible, if for nothing else than to maintain and build chemistry. A release would save $4.5 million this year, but it creates yet another hole GM Reggie McKenzie would have to fill.

CONS:

  • Contract situation: The biggest thing going against Wimbley is his contract; he’s due $11 million (per year) over each of the next 4 seasons. Now, if this number were half, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But is he really worth that much money? With the Raiders hurting for cap space this year and in the future, is his contract feasible?
  • Inconsistency: Wimbley has shown the ability to dominate games, but he’s also disappeared in far too many. Four of his 7 sacks last year came in Week 9 against the Chargers, who were without starting LT Marcus McNeill for much of the game. Wimbley is athletic, but is beat too often in coverage (a trait common to Raiders linebackers, it seems).

VERDICT:

A release would save $4.5 million this year, but it creates yet another hole GM Reggie McKenzie would have to fill. The ideal situation is for a restructure to happen in the last hours, but that is looking unlikely at this point, as Wimbley has been reportedly luke-warm to the idea of taking a reduced salary. I wonder if any team would trade for Wimbley, whether it be for picks or a potential starter. In the end, a release would be my last option. You simply can’t keep cutting talent and expect to field a competitive team. I understand the need of a salary purge, but this team is not that far away from contending (no free agents of note lost, young nucleus only going to get better). By 1 P.M., we will know if the Oakland Raiders are playing for 2012-13 or are in total rebuild mode. We know what Al Davis would say – Just Win, Baby! But his final contracts have left the team in quite the bind.

*UPDATE*

Wimbley’s agent Joe Linta told ProFootballTalk.com the team will release the highly paid linebacker. Linta spoke highly of new GM Reggie McKenzie, calling him a “real pro” and a “good guy”. While it’s nice to hear positive words about the new regime, it is worrisome how many players are having to be released to fix the cap situation. Already thin at linebacker, the Raiders will need to find yet another starter with limited salary cap space.

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